bird lists

To: Canberra Birds <>
Subject: bird lists
From: Noel Luff <>
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2020 04:49:59 +0000

There has been some recent discussion on the chat-line about making a list of birds seen and what can and cannot be included.

Here I go where angels fear to tread.

The first rule about making a list of birds is that there is that there are no rules. The list is yours. There are guidelines which need or need not be followed, it is all up to the individual.

First thing is to select the taxonomical list:

There are currently 4 lists that are updated on a regular basis:

IOC – this the list used by most twitchers (see below)

Clements – compiled by Cornell Lab (in USA) - this the basis for Australia’s e-bird list (the species on the Australian e-bird list have had the occasional name change and spelling change to suit local conditions).

HBW/BLI (Handbook of Birds of the World/Birdlife International) – this was adopted by the EU as their official list for legislative purposes.

Birdlife Australia – semi-official list for Australia

IOC, Clements and Birdlife Australia follow similar methods in determining species and it is probably only a matter of time before they converge.

HBW/BLI uses a different system to determine species. However they have recently transferred to Cornell Lab (which also runs Clements). The last update for this list was December 2019 so it would appear that Cornell may keep two different lists going.

Having selected the list it is advisable to keep a record of sub-species, because you never know when a sub-species may be turned into a full species in its own right.

The next question is what is tickable. This is a bit of a minefield. Remember it is your list so you can make the rules. Birds in cages or hand reared would not be considered by most people as tickable. But how about the following:

a)      Birds that have been netted for bird-banding.

b)      Birds released into the wild as part of a captive breeding program .

c)      A population that was once feral but now being managed.

d)      Semi-feral birds that rely on some handouts.

It is up to you which of the above you include or exclude from your list.

A related question is when is a feral bird established in its environment. Is it 10 years since release, or three generations, or some other rule? There is no hard and fast rule. Perhaps the three generations is a good minimal rule.

Having said there are no rules there is a list of twitchers that is maintained by Tony Pallister at

In order to be included in this list there are rules to be followed. These rules (as stated at the website) are

1.       All species counted should be seen alive and in the wild

2.       Geography includes Mainland Australia, its Territories or anywhere within the 200 NM limit (excluding Antarctica).

3.       Taxonomy should follow IOC Taxonomy and recommended bird names within. 

4.       Submissions should be honest, accurate and dated.

I trust this may be of some value to someone.

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